South Africa has in the past produced some great goalkeepers, including people like Itumeleng Khune and Andre Arendse. Many football enthusiasts in the country believed that Senzo Meyiwa was well on his way to being mentioned in the same breath as these other greats as he had already managed quite an impressive record in between the sticks as he played for the national team. The Durban native was, however, unable to fulfill his potential as his life was sadly taken away from him in a robbery incident in 2014.
The Life of Senzo Meyiwa
Meyiwa was born on the 24th of January 1984 in Durban, South Africa as Senzo Robert Meyiwa. He reportedly had a twin who passed away a long time ago.
Details about his early life are few and far between. The earliest that is known about him comes from the time he began playing as a striker for the London Cosmos youth team. After a while, he switched to become a goalkeeper, a position he would go ahead to maintain throughout his career.
In 2000, Senzo Meyiwa participated in the Transnet Under-14 and Coca-Cola U-17 Inter-Provincial tournaments. His performance in the games earned him an invite to join Orlando Pirates’ youth team, which he eventually did in 2002. He would go-ahead to play for the youth team from 2002 to 2005 when he was promoted to the senior side.
In his first few years as a part of Pirates, Meyiwa had to be content with a place on the bench. It was not until 2012 that he was able to begin to feature regularly for the side, thus getting the attention of his national team coach who called him up to the side for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. He went on to make his debut for the Bafana Bafana in 2013 when he came on as a substitute for Wayne Sandilands in a match against Lesotho which his side won two goals to nil.
During his time with the Orlando Pirates, Senzo Meyiwa made over a hundred and fifty starts for the team, winning a number of trophies along the way. This includes two trebles in the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 seasons. On the international front, he earned a total of seven caps, recording six clean sheets along the way.
Death and Funeral
Senzo Meyiwa was shot and killed on the 26th of October 2014 in the Vosloorus home of his girlfriend, actress and singer Kelly Khumalo. A hospital in Johannesburg declared him dead on arrival after the incident.
The news of his death caught many South Africans by surprise as Meyiwa was a rising star in the country, having recently been made the captain of the national team. Some of the most popular people to have spoken about his death include President Jacob Zuma, FIFA president Sepp Blatter, and Spanish goalkeeper Iker Casillas.
Zuma called for Meyiwa’s killers to be found while Blatter called the footballer’s death a “senseless and tragic loss”. Casillas, on the other hand, shared a photo of the two players exchanging jerseys on his Instagram page.
While the true reason behind his killing has not yet been identified by the authorities, a few reports have made claims that he was killed due to a match-fixing incident. This theory has been championed by expert private investigator Brad Nathanson. Other theories that have been floated around propose that he was killed in a failed robbery incident, a fact that many believe to be more plausible due to the high crime rate in the country.
The police have since mentioned that three people were involved in Senzo Meyiwa’s death but only one arrest has been made to the effect. The suspect, identified as Zamokuhle Mbatha, was taken into custody a few days later on the 31st of October but was however later released in the following month due to lack of evidence.
On the 1st of November 2014, at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, about thirty thousand South Africans gathered to witness the funeral of the loved goalkeeper. His remains were later laid to rest in Chesterville, KwaZulu-Natal. The Soweto derby between Orlando Pirates and Kaizer Chiefs which was scheduled to be played on that same day was postponed as a sign of respect.